How walkable is your Ottawa neighbourhood? This new map will tell you

Bel-Air Heights, Gloucester and some areas of Alta Vista are just a few of the least walkable neighbourhoods in Ottawa, according to new mapping done by the city.

Study part of city's official plan to create more 15-minute neighbourhoods

Ottawa's "15-minute neighbourhood" plan takes a look at how accessible amenities like grocery stores and green spaces are to pedestrians in areas across the city. (David Richard/Radio-Canada)

Bel-Air Heights, Gloucester and some areas of Alta Vista are just a few of the least walkable neighbourhoods in Ottawa, according to new mapping done by the city.

New studies of the entire city take a look at how well-suited areas are to being a "15-minute neighbourhood." With the population expected to grow to two or even three million by 2046, Ottawa City Hall is hard-focused on urban intensification instead of sprawl. The official plan sees the creation of residential hubs where people can get to most of their daily destinations — schools, grocery stores, public transit, parks and libraries — within a 15-minute walk from their homes.

This new study is "the first step at understanding the components of a 15-minute neighbourhood as they evolve across Ottawa's urban, suburban, and rural transects," reads a statement on the city's website. 

It scores both access to services and amenities, as well as "the safety and enjoyability of the pedestrian environment with respect to walking to these services and amenities."

Ottawa neighbourhoods that have good pedestrian access to amenities and services are shown in purple. Neighbourhoods with an average score are shown in orange, and those that scored poorly are red. (City of Ottawa)

Neighbourhoods that scored higher in the study were mostly centrally located, however Bel-Air Heights, Gloucester and Alta Vista were all rated average to poor.

"Nothing there is surprising at all when you look at how the neighbourhood is currently constructed," said Marty Carr, president of the Alta Vista Community Association. 

"We don't really have any small shops or services in the core of Alta Vista. You really have to go to the periphery to find those businesses."

While Carr is happy to see the study completed, she said what's important to know now is how the city plans to invest in and follow through with the concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods.

Full report expected in fall

Roland Dorsay, who sits on the board of the  Federation of Citizens' Associations of Ottawa (FCA), an umbrella organization for 57 community groups across the city, called the mapping "very much welcome," but said important elements are missing, including consideration for tree cover.

Dorsay said while the study does map out walkability to green spaces like parks in Ottawa, "the ability to walk to main streets in shade when it's sunny and hot in an increasingly warm environment is significant."

He said residents also want the opportunity to provide feedback on the mapping studies.

Residents are looking at "how 15 minute neighborhoods are going to evolve in ways that impact them," he said. "They want to have some say in that process."

A full report on the 15-minute neighbourhood study will be released in the fall.

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